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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Archaeology news updates
    Posted: 22-Mar-2012 at 14:27

"Lost" Great Wall of China Segment Found?

Google Earth, carbon dating suggest wall network even bigger than thought.

An illustration of a wall being built.
Workers in Mongolia construct what may be part of China's Great Wall network around A.D. 1100.

A forgotten section of the Great Wall of China has been discovered deep in the Gobi Desert—and outside of China—researchers say.

With the help of Google Earth, an international expedition documented the ancient wall for roughly 100 kilometers (62 miles) in a restricted border zone in southern Mongolia in August 2011.

The defensive barrier formed part of the Great Wall system built by successive Chinese dynasties to repel Mongol invaders from the north, according to findings published in the March issue of the Chinese edition of National Geographic magazine. (The National Geographic Society is responsible for both the magazine and National Geographic News.)


Preserved to a height of 9 feet (2.75 meters) in places, the desert discovery belongs to a sequence of remnant walls in Mongolia collectively known as the Wall of Genghis Khan, said expedition leader and Great Wall researcher William Lindesay.

Named after the founder of the Mongol Empire, the Wall of Genghis Khan usually survives only as "a faint trace," Lindesay said in an email.

But "we found a 'real wall', standing high and existing as a dominant landscape feature," he said.

What's more, it wasn't the work of Genghis Khan or his heirs but actually a long-lost segment of the Great Wall of China network, the team's findings suggest.


First to Investigate New Great Wall?

Close to China in the border region of Ömnögovi Province, the ancient structure hadn't been scientifically explored or studied before, said Lindesay, director of the International Friends of the Great Wall conservation group, based in Beijing, China.

"We're the first to investigate the ruins," he said.

"According to the army officers who minded us, we were the first outsiders to be allowed into the area," Lindesay added. "We assumed various local Mongolians had been to the area, but had not considered the structure of much interest."

At times seeking out topographic clues seen in Google Earth—the wall is visible on satellite images—the team located two well preserved but contrasting stretches of wall.

One section had been made mainly with wet mud and a woody desert shrub called saxaul, the other from blocks of black volcanic rock.

Along its vast length, Lindesay suspects, the wall originally stood at least 2 meters (6.5 feet) taller than it does today.

"What we found was just the last remaining piece of a 'fossil'—the skull or the large thighbone, with the rest missing," he said.

"One can expect the wall was both much higher and continuous for vast distances."

That dark basaltic rock seems to have been an obvious choice for the second stretch, which crosses the rugged remains of extinct volcanoes.

The clean, straight edges to the blocks indicate that the stone was quarried, which would have required a large, organized workforce and an efficient transport system, the team said.

(Video: The Great Wall of China.)

Rewriting History

Ancient Mongolian texts suggest that the so-called Wall of Genghis Khan was built as an animal fence by Khan's son Ögedei to keep wild gazelle on his land. (Learn about National Geographic's Valley of the Khans project.)

But the recently explored Gobi Desert wall segment isn't in a region where large herds of gazelle occur.

"There would be no reason to build an animal wall in the Gobi," said anthropologist and Mongolia historian Jack Weatherford, formerly of Macalester College, Minnesota.

Chinese researchers, perhaps not surprisingly, have speculated that China's Han dynasty had erected these little-studied stretches in about 115 B.C.

But radiocarbon dating of partly exposed wood and rope remains extracted from the wall indicates that the saxaul-segment construction went on for more than a hundred years—and occurred about a thousand years later than thought, from A.D. 1040 to 1160.

Those dates hint that the Western Xia dynasty built the walls—or at least rebuilt old Han walls on the sites.

Holding Back the Mongol Tide

This northwestern Chinese dynasty isn't known to have contributed to the Great Wall system, but in at least one aspect, a Western Xia origin makes sense.

During the Western Xia period, Mongol tribes were rising in strength and making forays south, Lindesay noted.

"If one imagines the wall as a platform, with some kind of battlement—perhaps of wooden stakes, functioning as a shield to those manning its top—then it would have been an effective defense installation," he said.

But, mysteriously, the expedition team found no pottery, no trash, no coins, no weapons—nothing to prove the wall was ever actually manned. Nor did they find any of the watchtowers that mark surviving sections of the Great Wall within China.

"The wall system was incomplete," Lindesay said. "It not only lacked the signaling capability [to make smoke signals]—it didn't appear to be capable of accommodating troops."

Unfinished Business

"I believe the wall here is only half built and that there was, for some reason, a rethink on locating the wall here," Lindesay said.

It isn't difficult to imagine how the purported Great Wall segment's harsh desert location might have led to the remote frontier defense being abandoned, he added.

Weatherford, the Minnesota-based anthropologist, agrees with Lindesay's conclusion that the newfound remains were Chinese constructions.

There's a good reason, Weatherford added, that the stretch nevertheless carries Genghis Khan's name.

Mongolians, he said, are sensitive to the idea of "Chinese structures built on their land, since it carries the possible claim that the land was once Chinese.

"By calling it the Genghis Khan Wall, the name makes the place Mongolian and rejects foreign influence," Weatherford said.

He also describes the expedition new findings as "very important, because to my knowledge this wall has not been studied."

"I would risk saying that it is the largest human-made structure or artifact in all of Mongolia," he added. "It is amazing to me that it is not already much better analyzed."

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/03/120319-great-wall-of-china-mongolia-science-lindesay/




Edited by TheAlaniDragonRising - 22-Mar-2012 at 14:29
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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Mar-2012 at 14:31

Satellites Expose 8,000 Years of Lost Civilization

Archaeologists have developed a large-scale method and mapped some 14,000 settlement sites in northeastern Syria. The effort could uncover long-term trends in urban activity

Hidden in the landscape of the fertile crescent of the Middle East, scientists say, lurk overlooked networks of small settlements that hold vital clues to ancient civilizations.

Beyond the impressive mounds of earth, known as tells in Arabic, that mark lost cities, researchers have found a way to give archaeologists a broader perspective of the ancient landscape. By combining spy-satellite photos obtained in the 1960s with modern multispectral images and digital maps of Earth's surface, the researchers have created a new method for mapping large-scale patterns of human settlement. The approach, used to map some 14,000 settlement sites spanning eight millennia in 23,000 square kilometers of northeastern Syria, is published today in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Traditional archaeology goes straight to the biggest features -- the palaces or cities -- but we tend to ignore the settlements at the other end of the social spectrum," says Jason Ur, an archaeologist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who is co-author of the study. "The people who migrated to cities came from somewhere; we have to put these people back on the map."

Such comprehensive maps promise to uncover long-term trends in urban activity. "This kind of innovative large-scale application is what remote sensing has been promising archaeology for some years now; it will certainly help us to focus our attention on the big picture," says Graham Philip, an archaeologist at Durham University, UK.

Soil signatures

The satellite-based method relies on the fact that human activity leaves a distinctive signature on the soil, called anthrosols. Formed from organic waste and decayed mud-brick architecture, anthrosols are imbued with higher levels of organic matter and have a finer texture and lighter appearance than undisturbed soil -- resulting in reflective properties that can be seen by satellites.

To sift through satellite images for those signatures, co-author Bjoern Menze, a research affiliate in computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, built on his skills from his day job identifying tumors in clinical images.

Menze trained software to detect the characteristic wavelengths of known anthrosols in images spanning 50 years of seasonal differences. This automation was key. "You could do this with the naked eye using Google Earth to look for sites, but this method takes the subjectivity out of it by defining spectral characteristics that bounce off of archaeological sites," says Ur.

Menze and Ur also used digital elevation data collected in 2000 by the space shuttle as part of NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM). This information enabled the authors to estimate the volume of the larger sites for the first time -- and to use this volume as a proxy for a site's longevity. The bigger the mound, the longer the settlement survived.

Tony Wilkinson, an archaeologist at Durham University and Ur's former mentor, says that being able to measure the volume of many sites over large areas remotely is a breakthrough. However, Philip cautions that the resolution of the SRTM data may be too coarse to provide an accurate measurement for the volume of the smaller settlements. Nonetheless, he expects that the method will spark new archaeological insights for several different regions.

New life for old hypotheses

The method has already renewed speculation about the importance of water to city development. Surprisingly, this study found that a handful of sites are unexpectedly large given that they are not located near rivers or in areas of high precipitation. "The settlement known as Tell Brak, for example, is far too large for what one would expect at such a marginal position," says Ur. "This is where things get interesting."

Jennifer Pournelle, a landscape archaeologist at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, agrees. "These findings validate hypotheses I've introduced in southern Iraq -- namely that irrigation is an after-effect of urbanization," she says. "It's not what enables a city to develop; it's what keeps them going after soil moisture dries up."

Pournelle says that she plans to adopt this method as soon as possible, and notes that it offers a valuable way to learn more about large regions, particularly when they are remote and difficult to access because of local conflicts.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=satellites-expose-8000-years-lost-civilization



Edited by TheAlaniDragonRising - 23-Mar-2012 at 05:46
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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Mar-2012 at 14:33
Googling the past: How I uncovered prehistoric remains from my office
Googling the past: How I uncovered prehistoric remains from my office
Archaeology is the study of the remains of the past but has long been predatory on the sciences and their ever-growing technologies. I was brought up as a student in 1970s Britain, when we learned of the wonderful revelations to be made through aerial viewing of almost any human landscape.

Today we have moved on to add, first, satellite imagery to our arsenal, and now the astonishing virtual globes any one of us can use to explore many of the most remote and difficult places in the world. This was never clearer to me than during the past two years, when I began finding thousands of prehistoric sites in the Middle East … from my desk in Perth, Australia, using Google Earth.

Archaeology from the air

Aerial reconnaissance for archaeology – Aerial Archaeology – has been an indispensable part of fieldwork in most of north-western Europe for decades. Hundreds of flights are dedicated annually to archaeology, which provide access to millions of aerial photographs. It would not be overstating it to say this technique has been transformational for the discipline.

Click for a larger version. APAAME

Click for a larger version. APAAME

 

Known sites and landscapes recorded cost-effectively, monitored routinely and mapped, as well as new discoveries, have all added to the database. In Britain, for example, the immense number of new sites recorded has transformed ancient landscape studies.

Although the Middle East witnessed important pioneering aerial reconnaissance in the 1920s and 30s it was largely confined to the British and French Mandates and ended with the Second World War and independence movements.

In the decades since, the landscape of the entire Middle East has been transformed through massive development, largely driven by a population explosion. In Jordan, for example, the population has increased by almost 2,000% since 1943, equivalent to an increase in Australia from the 7.5 million we had in 1947 to 150 million now. In short, the Middle East was deprived of one of the most powerful tools for discovery, recording, mapping and initial interpretation at the very time it was most needed.

But there have been a few glimmers of light.

Googling the past

It has always been relatively easy for archaeologists in Israel and Jordan to obtain aerial photographs and, since 1997, Jordan has supported me in an annual programme of aerial reconnaissance along with my colleague Dr Robert Bewley.

More recently still, the quality of available satellite imagery has improved significantly with the declassification of US military imagery from the 1960s onwards. And now we have virtual globes – Google Earth and Bing, providing extensive high-resolution imagery over large areas of the Middle East.

Click for a larger version. APAAME

Click for a larger version. APAAME

 

At a stroke and within a very short period of time, archaeologists who were accustomed to working without access to aerial imagery, have had immense landscapes opened up for exploration from their home office. For Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and Jordan there is extensive high-resolution imagery; for Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman, high-resolution coverage is more limited but increasing.

The consequences can be measured immediately, although it will be some years before the detailed impact is known.

At the very least, many archaeologists can see their site or area of interest in colour and useful detail. Many users now produce maps based on Google Earth imagery. In our Aerial Archaeology in Jordan project, Google Earth imagery is used routinely and symbiotically with our aerial reconnaissance.

Although even the best Google imagery cannot substitute for low-level aerial photographs, it does provide a superb photo-map offering vertical views hard to obtain easily from helicopters or aircraft

Although even the best Google imagery cannot substitute for low-level aerial photographs, it does provide a superb photo-map offering vertical views hard to obtain easily from helicopters or aircraft. The major recent impact has been in Jordan’s Arab neighbours where aerial archaeology is not allowed and even access to archive aerial photographs is limited or impossible.

What did we find?

Large parts of Syria, for example, have now come into sharp focus. One example of the change concerns the prehistoric stone-built structures called kites. French archaeologists reported fewer than 300 in 1995; today we have more than 900 including many in areas where none were previously known.

Click for a larger version. APAAME

Click for a larger version. APAAME

 

The greatest potential impact will come in the Arabian Peninsula. Saudi Arabia has not normally given access to archive aerial photographs although they are the only viable means of exploring its immense area (2.15 million sq km) and often daunting landscape. Although Yemen and Oman have benefited from more extensive ground work, both suffer from the same absence of a key tool.

Although 19th century travellers and recent archaeologists noted extensive remains, there was little scope for quantifying what survived. This was especially true of the stone-built structures the Bedouin call “the Works of the Old Men”, which are all probably prehistoric.

Recent systematic interpretation of a single high-resolution “window” of Google Earth for an area near Jeddah underscores, counter-intuitively, the surprisingly rich archaeological remains even in the bleakest landscape.

Some 2,000 stone structures were recorded, many of them of a type familiar from eastern Jordan, but a local variant. In a second “window” we have recorded 281 Kites, many of them in forms different from those long-known in Jordan and southern Syria.

A third “window” has revealed a score of tracks leading to an ancient settlement, each flanked for an overall total of several kilometres by burial cairns, Pendants (a cairn with a “tail” of small cairns), keyhole, trumpet and various other shapes of what are probably burial places.

A new perspective

There is the potential now for much of “Interior Arabia”, from northern Syria to Yemen, to be explored systematically and its visible remains mapped. Preliminary interpretations can emerge from creating sites, analysing maps and setting the known data against a variety of backgrounds (geology, soils, hydrology, climate, fauna and flora etc.).

Aerial Archaeology – whether working with aircraft or satellites, cannot answer many of the questions of interest to archaeologists. But it can be an indispensable tool for building the big picture and establishing the immensely enriched database available to archaeologists.

Click for a larger version. APAAME

Click for a larger version. APAAME

 

The programme of Aerial Archaeology in Jordan will continue. It provides a rich database of low-level detailed imagery and a permanent record of sites that are often under threat. More than that, it can assist in the interpretation of data from the wider region where aerial reconnaissance is impossible and ground exploration harder or impossible. It will remain part of the increasingly rich mixture of tools for exploring these “works of the old men”.

The digital exploration of the Middle East can involve at least as much time as traditional aerial reconnaissance, but it gives us a new perspective on some of Earth’s most ancient sites.

http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/03/2012/googling-the-past-how-i-uncovered-prehistoric-remains-from-my-office



Edited by TheAlaniDragonRising - 22-Mar-2012 at 14:37
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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Mar-2012 at 14:42

Mary Rose skeletons studied by 

Swansea sports scientists


Skeletons recovered from the wreck of a King Henry VIII's warship the Mary Rose are being studied to discover more about life in the 1500s.

Swansea University sports scientists are hoping to find out more about the toll on the bodies of archers who had to pull heavy bows.

It is documented that archers were aboard the ship when it sank in 1545.

The wreck was raised from the Solent in 1982, containing thousands of medieval artefacts.

The ship, which is now based in Portsmouth where a new museum is being built to house her, also had 92 fairly complete skeletons of the crew of the Mary Rose.

Nick Owen, a sport and exercise bio mechanist from the College of Engineering at Swansea University, said: "This sample of human remains offers a unique opportunity to study activity related changes in human skeletons.

"It is documented that there was a company of archers aboard when the ship sank, at a time when many archers came from Wales and the south west of England.

"These archers had specialist techniques for making and using very powerful longbows. Some bows required a lifetime of training and immense strength as the archers had to pull weights up to 200lbs (about 90kg)."

He said archers were the elite athletes of the Tudor age, requiring great skill and strength to fire up to 12 arrows a minute, holding a heavy bow in one arm.


“Start Quote

They know so much about the ship and every object on there - but nothing about the people on board”

Nick OwenSwansea University

"It is known that archers were on board as 'arm guards' that they used were found. But they don't know which skeletons they would be.

"So we are analysing the lower arm bones as those are the ones that are likely to show a difference," he said.

"In fact, on one of the skeletons we have looked at, the surface area of the joint between the lower arm and elbow is 48% larger than on the joint on the other arm."

Effect on skeletons

Alexzandra Hildred, curator of ordnance at the Mary Rose Trust said that in the Tudor age, it was a requirement by law for every man and boy to practice archery regularly from an early age.

"Many of the skeletons recovered show evidence of repetitive stress injuries of the shoulder and lower spine," she said.


"This could be as a result of the shooting heavy longbows regularly.......

 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-17309665



Edited by TheAlaniDragonRising - 22-Mar-2012 at 14:48
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  Quote tjadams Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Mar-2012 at 19:20
Originally posted by tjadams

Full Titanic wreck site is mapped for first time

Published March 09, 2012-Associated Press


SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine –  Researchers have pieced together what's believed to be the first comprehensive map of the entire 3-mile-by-5-mile Titanic debris field and hope it will provide new clues about what exactly happened the night 100 years ago when the superliner hit an iceberg, plunged to the bottom of the North Atlantic and became a legend.


::::UPDATE::::

Unseen Titanic: New images of wreck reveal entire ship for first time

Published March 21, 2012FoxNews.com


[quote] New images of the wreck of the RMS Titanic reveal for the first time ever the full stretch of the “unsinkable” boat -- sprawled silently 12,500 feet beneath the Atlantic Ocean.

The set of new photographs, released in the April 2012 edition of National Geographic magazine to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the shipwreck, reveal the full expanse of the ship, rather than the dim images of bits of the hull or pieces of wreckage seen to date.

The meticulously stitched-together mosaic took experts at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) months to construct, the magazine said.

“Now we know where everything is,” Bill Lange, head of WHOI’s Advanced Imaging and Visualization Laboratory, told National Geographic. “After a hundred years, the lights are finally on.”


http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/03/21/unseen-titanic-new-images-wreck-reveal-entire-ship-for-first-time/ 




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  Quote tjadams Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Mar-2012 at 19:24

Did belief in gods lead to Mayan Demise?

Written By Charles Choi-Published March 22, 2012-LiveScience


A dread of malevolent spirits haunting forsaken areas could, along with environmental catastrophes, help to explain why some areas in the ancient Mayan world proved less resilient than others when their civilization disintegrated, researchers suggest.

The ancient Maya once claimed an area about the size of Texas, with cities and fields that occupied what is now southern Mexico and northern Central America, including the countries of GuatemalaBelizeEl Salvador and Honduras. The height of the Mayan civilization, known as the Classic period, extended from approximately A.D. 250 to at least 900.

For unknown reasons, the Classic Mayan civilization then collapsed. The population declined catastrophically to a fraction of its former size, and many of their great cities were left mostly abandoned for the jungle to reclaim.



Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/03/22/did-belief-in-gods-lead-to-mayan-demise/#ixzz1ptY9qf29
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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Mar-2012 at 05:27
Butchered sloth bone lends more evidence to early North American settlement


A Canadian scientist's analysis of ancient animal remains found in Ohio — including the leg bone of an extinct giant sloth believed to have been butchered by an Ice Age hunter more than 13,000 years ago — has added weight to a once-controversial argument that humans arrived in North America thousands of years earlier than previously believed.

The discovery of what appear to be dozens of cut marks on the femur of a gargantuan, 1,300-kilogram Jefferson's ground sloth is being hailed as the earliest trace of a human presence in the Great Lakes state.

But the find also represents a significant new piece of evidence in support of the theory that the first inhabitants of Canada, the U.S. and the rest of the Americas were not the so-called Clovis people — known from distinctive tools they left at various archeological sites from about 12,600 years ago — but a much earlier wave of Ice Age migrants ancestral to many of today's New World aboriginal populations.

The butchered-sloth discovery — recently confirmed by University of Manitoba researcher Haskel Greenfield, co-author of a paper published in the latest issue of the journal World Archaeology — bolsters the growing consensus that prehistoric Asians crossed from eastern Russian to western Alaska as early as 16,000 years ago, possibly travelling down the coast of B.C. before spreading to the continental interior and the far reaches of South America.

These purported "pre-Clovis" people left indications of their presence in the Western Hemisphere that only recently have become accepted as solid proof by many mainstream archeologists.

The sloth bone took a circuitous route to scientific significance. Discovered in an Ohio swamp at least 95 years ago, the specimen was first documented by a U.S. geologist in 1915 before sitting on the shelf of a local museum for close to a century, overlooked by modern researchers..........

http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/Butchered+sloth+bone+lends+more+evidence+early+North+American/6332457/story.html








Edited by TheAlaniDragonRising - 23-Mar-2012 at 05:36
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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Mar-2012 at 05:39

Neolithic horned cairns near Caithness wind farm scanned

Image of Neolithic horned cairn. Pic: AOC Archaeology Group
An image created by AOC Archaeology of one of the seven horned cairns

A wind farm developer has paid for archaeologists to scan a cluster of seven Neolithic horned cairns near to where 21 turbines will be erected.

The 5,000 year old structures at Hill of Shebster, near Thurso, in Caithness, were used for burials and rituals.

Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) equipment was used to map the cairns.

Edinburgh-based AOC Archaeology also recorded 300 new Bronze and Iron Age sites in the £100,000 project funded by Baillie Wind Farm.

The new sites included hut circle settlements.

'Good example'

Archaeologists have produced three-dimensional images of the horned cairns from the scans.

The stone structures are more than 60m (196ft) in length and have two projecting walls at their entrances that create small courtyard areas.

A car park and path are to be built near the cairns to allow the public to visit them.

Consultant Dr Graeme Cavers, of AOC Archaeology, said: "The Shebster area is an unusually good example of a well-preserved cluster of sites.

"They are essentially burial and ritual monuments, much like the chapels and shrines of more recent times, and each of them is likely to have been used exclusively by individual local groups or communities."

He added: "The survey makes an invaluable contribution to the archaeological record of Caithness, and is really the first large-scale survey of its kind undertaken in Scotland."

Caithness is rich in ancient sites........

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-17463275

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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Mar-2012 at 05:53

MADAGASCAR FOUNDED BY WOMEN

The discovery negates a prior theory about how the island was first found.
malagasy
A Malagasy woman and her child.

THE GIST
  • Madagascar was settled 1200 years ago by approximately 30 women, mostly of Indonesian descent.
  • Many Malagasy carry a gene tied to Indonesia.
  • Native Malagasy people today can likely trace their heritage back to the 30 founding mothers of the island. 
  • Madagascar was first settled and founded by approximately 30 women, mostly of Indonesian descent, who may have sailed off course in a wayward vessel 1200 years ago.
  • The discovery negates a prior theory that a large, planned settlement process took place on the island of Madagascar, located off the east coast of Africa. Traditionally it was thought to have been settled by Indonesian traders moving along the coasts of the Indian Ocean.

    Most native Madagascar people today, called Malagasy, can trace their ancestry back to the founding 30 mothers, according to an extensive new DNA study published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B,. Researchers focused on mitochondrial DNA, passed down from mothers to their offspring. Scientists assume some men were with the women.

    “I’m afraid this wasn’t a settlement by Amazon seafarers!” lead author Murray Cox told Discovery News. “We propose settlement by a very small group of Indonesian women, around 30, but we also presume from the genetics that there were at least some Indonesian men with them. At this stage, we don’t know how many.”

    Cox, a senior lecturer at Massey University’s Institute of Molecular BioSciences, and his colleagues analyzed genetic samples from 2745 individuals hailing from 12 Indonesian archipelago island groups. They then compared the results with genetic information from 266 individuals from three Malagasy ethnic groups: Mikea hunter-gatherers, semi-nomadic Vezo fishermen and the dominant Andriana Merina ethnic group.

    Many Malagasy carry a gene tied to Indonesia. The DNA detective work indicates just 30 Indonesian women founded the Malagasy population, with a much smaller biological contribution from Africa. The women may have mated with their male Indonesian travel companions, or with men from Africa.

    “The small number of Indonesian women is consistent with a single boatload of voyagers,” Cox said, adding that “typical Indonesian trading ships in the mid first millennium A.D. could hold around 500 people. “

    The distance between Indonesia and Madagascar is close to 5000 miles, so the women and their travel mates must have had quite a journey, especially if it was unintended.

    “The small founder population of Indonesian women makes this scenario fairly unlikely,” Cox said. “Instead, our new evidence favors a small movement of people, and perhaps even an unplanned crossing of the Indian Ocean.”

    NEWS: Madagascar Says Hands Off Marine Life

    Scant archaeological evidence, consisting of a few bones marked by stone tools and an increased rate of forest fires, suggests people may have first visited, but not settled, Madagascar around 2000 years ago. Even that is very recent in terms of overall human history.

    Madagascar was one of the last places on earth to have been settled, with remote islands like New Zealand, Hawaii and Easter Island being in the short group of places that were settled later -- about 900 years ago.

    “Our best argument is that these islands were just extremely difficult to get to,” Cox said.

    Matthew Hurles, a senior group leader at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, has also studied the genetic heritage of Madagascar’s native people. He and his team also noted the Indonesian connection.

    "Malagasy peoples are a roughly 50:50 mix of two ancestral groups: Indonesians and East Africans,” Hurles said. “It is important to realize that these lineages have intermingled over intervening centuries since settlement, so modern Malagasy have ancestry in both Indonesia and Africa."

    Cox concluded, “It is worth emphasizing that Madagascar wasn’t a ‘sealed box’ after its initial settlement. There are notable later contributions by Africans, Arabs and Europeans. All of these contributions show up in the DNA of Malagasy today.”

http://news.discovery.com/history/madagascar-women-120320.html

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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Mar-2012 at 05:58

Bejeweled Anglo-Saxon Found in Christian "Burial Bed"

Skeleton picture: body of an early Christian noblewoman in the U.K.

The skeleton of a young Christian noblewoman, who was laid to rest on a "burial bed" some 1,400 years ago, is giving archaeologists precious clues to the earliest days of the English church.

Unearthed in 2011 in a village near Cambridge (map), the teenager wore the badge of her faith in the shape of an exquisite gold-and-garnet cross, found on her chest and just visible in the picture above.

The ornate treasure marks the grave as one of the earliest known Christian burials in Anglo-Saxon England, researchers from the University of Cambridgeannounced last week.


Christians previously lived and died in Britain under Roman rule. But the newfound grave dates to the mid-seventh century, when Anglo-Saxons—the Germanic peoples who founded the English nation and language—were starting to convert to Christianity.

In addition, the wooden burial bed on which the 16-year-old was placed is one of only a handful of such finds discovered in Britain, the team says.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/03/pictures/120321-anglo-saxon-treasure-christian-burial-gold-cross-cambridge/

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'Prehistoric' antler hammerhead and human skeleton unearthed in Burren

A leading archaeologist has described the discovery of what is a likely “prehistoric” antler hammerhead at a Burren cave as hugely exciting.

Dr Marion Dowd of IT Sligo said a 10-day excavation at a small cave on Moneen Mountain outside Ballyvaughan, Co Clare, also produced the “poignant” discovery of a skeleton of a teenager thought to have sought shelter in the cave.

Carbon dating found the skeletal bones date from the 16th or 17th century.

The skull of the skeleton and the antler hammerhead were discovered by cavers last June, prompting the National Museum Service to fund the excavation led by Dr Dowd last August.

She presented the results last night in the Burren village of Tubber at a Burrenbeo talk and said the cave was used in the Bronze Age or 3,000 years ago and again at the end of the medieval period.

Dr Dowd said “the discovery of the fabulous antler hammerhead is hugely exciting. I can’t find any other parallels in Irish archaeology.”

The antler came from a red deer stag aged over 6½ years old. She said the hammerhead “is likely to be prehistoric” but tests have yet to be completed to confirm the date.

Dr Dowd said DNA tests are required to determine the sex of the teenager. “The bones show . . . the skeleton is somewhere between 350 and 500 years old.”

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2012/0322/1224313701886.html

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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Mar-2012 at 06:01
Skulls on stakes in Sweden date to the Mesolithic
Skulls on stakes in Sweden date to the Mesolithic
Archaeologists at work at Kanaljorden, Motala.

Archaeological excavations in 2009–2011 at Kanaljorden in the town of Motala, Östergötland in central Sweden unearthed a unique Mesolithic site with ceremonial depositions of human crania in a former lake.

The human skulls have been part of a complex ceremony that involved their display on stakes and deposition in water.

The skulls have now been C14 dated to 6212-5717 cal BC and two dates on worked wood have also been obtained (5972-5675 cal BC), making them 7-8000 year old.

One of the skulls with a wooden stake inserted into foramen magnum. Image: Stiftelsen Kulturmiljövård

One of the skulls with a wooden stake inserted into foramen magnum. Image: Stiftelsen Kulturmiljövård


The rituals were conducted on a massive (14 x 14 m) stone-built construction on the bottom of a shallow lake (nowadays a peat fen). Some human crania were found as more or less intact “skulls” while others were found as isolated fragments, for example a frontal lobe or a temporal bone. Based on the more intact skulls eleven individuals have been identified, both men and women, ranging in age between infants and middle age. Two of the skulls had wooden stakes inserted into the cranium. In both cases the stakes were inserted from the base to the top of the skull.  As well as this a temporal bone of  a women was found placed inside the skull of another woman......

http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/03/2012/skulls-on-stakes-in-sweden-date-to-the-mesolithic





Edited by TheAlaniDragonRising - 23-Mar-2012 at 06:05
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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Mar-2012 at 06:14

Prehistoric Human Hunters the Cause of Giant Herbivore Extinction in Australia, Says Study

According to the results of a recently completed study published in the March 23, 2012 issue of the journalScience, human hunters were largely responsible for the extinction of Pleistocene-age Australia’s giant herbivores around 40,000 years ago. The extinction, as a result, led to significant changes in the ecological landscape, a cause-and-effect relationship that runs counter to the popular climate-centered theory for ecology shifts suggested by many other scientists. 

States Susan Rule of the Australian National University, Canberra and colleagues in their report: "Recent studies from North America [for example] show that megafaunal decline was followed by vegetation change and increased fire. However, these events happened in the latest Pleistocene during a time of rapid climate change, so it is difficult to resolve the contributions to them of megafaunal extinction versus climate."[1]

Rule's research changes this.

She and her colleagues collected and analyzed the pollen, charcoal and Sporormiella spore content of two sediment cores taken from a palaeolake/swamp in Lynch’s Crater, a volcanic maar in Queensland, northeastern Australia. In antiquity, the crater was surrounded by tropical rainforest until European settlement. Sporormiella spores, key to the study, is a fungus that depends upon ingestion by herbivores to complete its life cycle. It is found in their dung, where it sporulates. What they found was that the Sporormiella spore counts dropped to nearly zero at 41,000 years ago, suggesting the absence or disappearance of herbivores in the environment of that time. The count change corresponded with subsequent changes in the pollen and charcoal content, signifying a change from a mixed rainforest environment to that of leathery-leaved, scrubby vegetation called “sclerophyll” along with an increase in fire activity. To complete the analysis, the researchers coupled their findings with climate data. "We compared the magnitude of the ecological changes that followed megafaunal decline around 41 ka with earlier climate-driven shifts from 74 and 120 ka," reports Rule, et. al. "There was no significant effect onSporormiella from the two [previous] episodes of climate drying, suggesting that the megafaunal extinction was not the culmination of a long-term decline driven by an increasingly arid climate."[1]

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

An extinct marsupial mega-herbivore, Diprotodon optatum. Drawing by Peter Murray. [Image © Science/AAAS] 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Sthenurus, an extinct browsing kangaroo. Drawing by Peter Murray. [Image © Science/AAAS]  

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

What does all of this mean?

Rule and her colleagues suggest that the arrival of humans, not climate change, caused megafaunal extinction in this region of Australia. The changes measured in the study results coincide with the arrival of humans in the fossil record. This extinction, they conclude, in turn triggered the replacement of mixed rainforest by sclerophyll vegetation due to the resulting relaxed herbivore plant consumption pressure, causing a corresponding increase in the "fuel load" of the type of vegetation susceptible to more severe and frequent fires in the landscape. 

Another supporting perspective is provided by Matt McGlone, who's article appears in the same issue of Science. He adds that it was not the hunting of the herbivores alone that changed the ecology.  "Human-lit fires, which are often targeted in space and time to have the greatest effect on vegetation, were most likely the key factor in the subsequent switch to sclerophyll," he writes[2]. But his general conclusions are much the same:

"The Australasian megafaunal extinction story now seems clear. Shortly after their arrival, small bands of hunters had a devastating effect on large animals, whether it was ~41,000 years ago in Australia or ~750 years ago in New Zealand. Any climate change at those times was modest and highly unlikely to affect the outcome. Fire and massive biome disruption followed human arrival in regions where there had previously been little or no fire, such as wet tropical Queensland and eastern New Zealand.......The Australasian records clearly show that human hunting alone, on a continental scale at a time of only slight climate and vegetation change, is sufficient to eliminate megaherbivores."

http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/march-2012/article/prehistoric-human-hunters-the-cause-of-giant-herbivore-extinction-in-australia-says-study



Edited by TheAlaniDragonRising - 23-Mar-2012 at 06:16
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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Mar-2012 at 20:02

Hoard of 30,000 silver Roman coins discovered in Bath

One of the largest hoards of Roman coins discovered in Britain has been uncovered during an archaeological dig in Bath, experts have said

Hoard of 30,000 silver Roman coins discovered in Bath
The largest collection of Roman coins ever unearthed in a single container was found in April 2010 at the edge of a field near a Roman road near Frome, in Somerset

More than 30,000 silver coins have been found by archaeologists working at the site of a new city-centre hotel.

The hoard, believed to date from the third-century, was unearthed about 450 feet from the historic Roman Baths.

Experts believe the “treasure trove” is the fifth largest hoard ever discovered in Britain and the largest from a Roman settlement.

The coins, which have now been sent to the British Museum for further analysis, are fused together in a large block.

This makes identification and counting difficult and conservators at central London Museum expect the task of analysing the coins to take up to 12 months.

The Roman Baths has launched an appeal to raise about £150,000 to acquire, conserve and display the coins, believed to date from about 270AD.

The dig, known as the “Beau Street Hoard”, began in 2008 at the site of work on the Gainsborough Hotel in Beau Street.

On Thursday night, Stephen Clews, manager of the Roman Baths and Pump Room, said the find had been declared a “treasure trove”.

"We've put in a request for a formal valuation and then hope to buy the coins to display them at the baths,” he told the BBC.

"At the time there was a lot of unrest in the Roman Empire so there may be some explanation for why the coins were hidden away.

"The find is also unusual as it was discovered by professional archaeologists as opposed to an amateur using a metal detector.”

The largest collection of Roman coins ever unearthed in a single container was found in April 2010 by Dave Crisp, a hospital chef, with the help of a metal detector at the edge of a field near a Roman road near Frome, in Somerset.

The stash of 52,503 coins, known as the "Frome hoard" and dating between 253AD and 293AD, was valued at £320,250.

The haul is now at the Museum of Somerset thanks to a grant of almost £300,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturenews/9161483/Hoard-of-30000-silver-Roman-coins-discovered-in-Bath.html

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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Mar-2012 at 20:05

Ancient civilizations reveal ways to manage fisheries for sustainability

In the search for sustainability of the ocean's fisheries, solutions can be found in a surprising place: the ancient past.

In a study published on March 23 in the journal Fish and Fisheries, a team of marine scientists reconstructed fisheries yields over seven centuries of human habitation in Hawaii and the Florida Keys, the largest coral reef ecosystems in the United States, and evaluated the management strategies associated with periods of sustainability. The results surprised them.

"Before European contact, Native Hawaiians were catching fish at rates that far exceed what reefs currently provide society," said John "Jack" N. Kittinger, co-author and an early career fellow at the Center for Ocean Solutions at Stanford University. "These results show us that fisheries can be both highly productive and sustainable, if they're managed effectively." In contrast, historical fisheries in Florida were characterized by boom and bust, with serial depletions of highly valuable species for export markets. Today many species that were the target of 19th and early 20th century fisheries in Florida - including green turtles, sawfish, conch and groupers - have severely reduced populations or are in danger of extinction.

"Seven hundred years of history clearly demonstrate that management matters," said Loren McClenachan, co-author and assistant professor of environmental studies at Colby College. "Ancient Hawaiian societies used sophisticated tools similar to innovative conservation strategies used today, like marine protected areas and restrictions on harvest of vulnerable species like sharks." The difference, the authors explained, was in the way fisheries governance systems were structured. Regulations were developed locally with the buy-in of community members, but they were also effectively enforced with methods that now would be considered draconian. "Today, no management system comes close to achieving this balance, and as a result, resource depletion and collapse is common," said McClenachan.

The authors were able to characterize historical catch rates in Florida and Hawaii through an extensive review of archival sources, including species-specific catch records from the 1800s and archaeological reconstructions of human population densities and per-capita fish consumption back to the 1300s. Such information is relatively rare in coral reef areas. They then characterized management regimes associated with periods of high sustained yields using a variety of sources, including published work of Native Hawaiian scholars. This work revealed that sustainable fisheries existed during periods in which regulations were strict and socially enforced in ways that were often class and gender based. For example, many vulnerable species—like sharks and marine turtles—were reserved exclusively for high priests and chiefs.

Ancient Hawaiian societies depended entirely on local resources and needed creative ways to avoid resource collapse. For example, fishpond aquaculture was used to sequester nutrients and reduce pollution on reefs. In contrast, much of today's aquaculture requires large inputs of wild caught fish and antibiotics, often resulting in increased pollution. "Ancient Hawaiian society effectively practiced what we now call ecosystem-based management, which is something that modern society often struggles to achieve," says McClenachan. "Incorporating some of these ancient techniques into today's policy may be the key to sustaining our fisheries."

The authors of the study, entitled "Multicentury trends and the sustainability of coral reef fisheries in Hawai'i and Florida," point to the U.S. National Ocean Policy as an example of emerging attempts to manage ocean ecosystems more holistically, and local fisheries co-management as a modern way of including community members in designing effective fishing regulations. However, the authors caution that effective enforcement needs to go hand in hand with the development of local governance. "The ancient Hawaiians punished transgressors with corporal punishment," observed Kittinger. "Clearly, we don't recommend this, but it's easy to see there's room to tighten up today's enforcement efforts."

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-03/su-acr031612.php

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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Mar-2012 at 20:07

Archaeologists reconstruct diet of Nelson's Navy with new chemical analysis of excavated bones

Salt beef, sea biscuits and the occasional weevil; the food endured by sailors during the Napoleonic wars is seldom imagined to be appealing. Now a new chemical analysis technique has allowed archaeologists to find out just how dour the diet of Georgian sailors really was. The team's findings, published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology also reveal how little had changed for sailors in the 200 years between the Elizabethan and Georgian eras.

The research, led by Professor Mark Pollard from the University of Oxford, focused on bones from 80 sailors who served from the mid-seventeenth to the mid-eighteenth centuries and were buried in Royal Naval Hospital cemeteries in Plymouth and Portsmouth.

"An isotopic analysis of bone collagen from the recovered skeletons allowed us to reconstruct average dietary consumption," said Dr Pollard. "By comparing these findings to primary documentary evidence we can build a more accurate picture of life in Nelson's navy."

In the late 18th century the Royal Navy employed 70,000 seamen and marines. Feeding so many men was a huge logistical challenge requiring strictly controlled diets including flour, oatmeal, suet, cheese, dried pork, beer, salted cod and ships biscuits when at sea.

The team's analysis shows that the diet of the sailors was consistent with contemporary documentary records such as manifests and captain's logs. As well as validating the historical interpretation of sailors' diets, this finding has implications for the amount of marine protein which can be isotopically detected in human diets.

The bones in Portsmouth were also able to show where the sailors had served. The team's results show that even when serving in naval theaters ranging from the UK and English Channel to the West Indies or the Mediterranean, the sailors converged in dietary terms into a 'naval average', due to the strict consistency of diet.

The results also showed that sailors in buried in Plymouth spent more time off the American coast than those buried at Portsmouth, which is consistent with the sailing records.

Finally, the team compared the isotopic data with research on 18 individuals from the Mary Rose, a 16th century royal flagship that sank just outside Portsmouth harbor in 1545. The results revealed that the naval diet was virtually unchanged in 200 years.

"This is one of the first studies to use this technique to examine human populations in the historic period," conclude Pollard. "Our findings demonstrate the benefits of using forensic methods to complement documentary records."

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-03/w-ard032312.php

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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Mar-2012 at 20:09

Troops Leave, Archaeologists Return, as Hope for Iraq’s Cultural Relics and Tourism Industry Grow

On December 17th, the same day the last U.S. troops left Iraq, a group of archaeologists from Stony Brook University arrived in the country, becoming one of the first foreign archaeology teams to visit in more than 20 years.

According to a recent report by USA Today’s Dan Vergano, the team spent four weeks excavating a mound called Tell Sakhariya near the southern city of Nasiriyah.  It was a “small” dig, but for international archaeologists who have tracked every conflict in the region with bated breath — and who have anxiously awaited another chance to study Iraq’s ruins — the news was significant.

Elizabeth Stone, one of the archaeologists on the trip, described it as “a really hopeful moment,” saying, “It was wonderful to be back.”

Vergano’s article includes information about other historic sites in Iraq, including Ur, famed as the birthplace of Abraham and home to the world’s largest ziggurat. Ur is also the focus of a GHF projectin partnership with the Iraq Ministry of Culture, the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH) and Dhiqar Antiquities Office.

(Last April, Vergano wrote another USA Today feature about how Global Heritage Network is helping archaeologists monitor Ur and other endangered Iraq sites.)

Click here to explore Ur, Iraq on Global Heritage Network

Meanwhile, this month’s issue of The Atlantic includes a profile of Liwass Semeism, Iraq’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities.  The story describes him as “the man with the hardest job in Iraq,” tasked with “persuading foreigners that a country beset by years of brutal warfare and political instability is the perfect place for their next vacation.”

In the article, Semeism defends against claims that Iraq is unsafe for visitors.  He estimates that 1.5 million people came to the country last year, up from 266,000 in 2006.  His staff, however, points out that the vast majority of visitors are Shia pilgrims from Iran, and that fewer than 200 tourists from the U.S., the U.K. and other Western countries are expected to visit in 2012.

Still, Semeism’s hopes are not without due cause.  With a history of civilization that dates back thousands of years, the country abounds with ancient cities and holy sites central to each of the world’s three major religions.  It provided the setting for key developments in language, mathematics, agriculture and more.

As much as Iraq remains an archaeologist’s paradise — a place where every foot of earth conceals potential hidden secrets — that same terrain contains billions of dollars in untapped tourism revenue.  Perhaps one day soon both can be revealed........

http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/march-2012/article/troops-leave-archaeologists-return-as-hope-for-iraqs-cultural-relics-and-tourism-industry-grow

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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Mar-2012 at 13:38

Polish researcher changes the dating of the famous Egyptian necropolis

Royal cemetery in Meidum developed continuously at least until the late New Kingdom period, the end of the second millennium BC, determined Dr. Teodozja Rzeuska, archaeologist at the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Culture PAS. Until now, Egyptologists believed that the dead had been buried there only in times of the builders of the pyramids, in the third millennium BC.
Archaeological site Meidum represents the southern border of the most famous necropolis of the ancient world - the Memphite necropolis, which includes the largest pyramids built for the pharaohs Khufu and Khafre.

"Scientists associate Meidum with a finely crafted mastaba (tomb of the mighty - editor. PAP) relief depicting geese, with one of the oldest mummies found in Nefer mastaba, and with sculptures depicting the family of Pharaoh Snefru (IV Dynasty, 27th century BC). The necropolis is considered one of the most recognisable in Egypt, but paradoxically it is also one of the least known and most mysterious "- said Dr. Teodozja Rzeuska.

One of the first scientists to conduct regular excavations there in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was British archaeologist W.F.M. Petrie, pioneer and father of Egyptian archaeology. At the end of the 1920s, American researcher Alan Rowe also carried out short excavation work in Meidum. The last archaeologist to conduct excavations there was Aly El-Khuli. 40 years have passed since that time.

"The results of several scientific expeditions helped formulate a thesis, which in time became the dogma that in Meidum the dead had been buried only in the early reign of the fourth dynasty. Shortly afterwards the place was to be abandoned in favour of other parts of the Memphite necropolis, like Dahshur and Giza" - said Dr. Rzeuska.

According to the researcher, many modern scientists approached the problem of dating the necropolis uncritically. All tombs and monuments are automatically dated to the early Old Kingdom.

Dr Teodozja Rzeuska decided to take a closer look at monuments published in numerous scientific articles, especially ceramics. Preliminary work has already yielded a surprising result.

"It turned out that the necropolis in Meidum not only had not been abandoned during the early Old Kingdom, but it had been developing continuously for another one thousand five hundred years, at least until the late New Kingdom" - explained the researcher.

Dr. Rzeuska bases her analysis of the historical topography of Meidum on original, almost one hundred years old excavation documentation made by the W.F.M Pietri and Alan Rowe. The research was made possible with KWERENDA programme grant received from the Foundation for Polish Science.

The end result of the analysis is the publication of monographic study in the English language, devoted to the historical topography of the royal necropolis at Meidum, which will be released after the project completion.
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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Mar-2012 at 17:37

Mass grave from Thirty Years' War opened

Photo: DPA
Archaeologists have started unearthing human remains from a mass grave near the German town of Lützen, a find that dates back to the Thirty Years' War.

"We estimate that there are at least 75 dead, who were buried very close together in several layers," archaeologist Susanne Friederich said on Friday. 
The Battle of Lützen, which took place in 1632, pitted Swedish soldiers against those under the command of German Roman Catholic general Albrecht von Wallenstein. 

It was one of the bloodiest battles of the Thirty Years' War, with an estimated 6,500 to 10,000 casualties. The Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus was also mortally wounded during the battle. 

The grave was discovered in the late summer of 2011. The 42-square-metre tomb is 1.1 metres deep. 

"With the help of anthropological methods, the victims' ages, wounds, causes of death and illnesses will be determined," Friederich added. 

The archaeologist said it would take six experts a year to completely unearth the tomb. She said it is thought the dead were buried without clothing, weapons or other personal effects. 

Using isotope analysis, the researchers hope to be able to determine the victims' geographic origins. Historical evidence indicates that Germans, Swedes, Finns and Scots fought in the Battle of Lützen.
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  Quote TheAlaniDragonRising Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Mar-2012 at 17:41

Leaked Government Memo Warns of Organized Looting in Syria

Looting is not a new problem for Syrian cultural authorities.  Despite harsh punishments doled out to offenders (up to 20 years in prison), gangs of looters have operated in the country for years, smuggling artifacts over the border to satisfy antiquities markets in Europe and the US.  But a government memo leaked earlier this month suggests that the current conflict has put Syrian cultural sites at an even greater danger of organized looting.

The memo, posted by a Facebook group devoted to tracking threats to Syria’s archaeological sites, was originally written by Syrian Prime Minister Adel Safar to the ministers of culture and finance and the governor of the central bank.  In it, Safar claims that “professional international gangs” have brought into the country “equipment and satellite communication devices for stealing manuscripts and robbing museums, safes, and banks.” He draws comparisons to similar war-time operations — most recently in Libya, but most famously in Iraq.

An analysis by Alakhbar English suggest that the biggest fear is looting at Syria’s 25 antiquities museums, where security may be compromised as a result of the ongoing conflict.  These provincial museums are spread all over the country, located by design near the original excavation sites.  Their contents could be put in storage for safekeeping, but for now they remain highly vulnerable.

Earlier this month, we wrote about damage to Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as a result of the Syrian Army setting up a base in a hilltop citadel and firing on the ancient ruins.  Until stability is re-established, understanding the damage to other cultural sites will be extremely difficult.  To help, the above-mentioned Facebook group, which operates in French and Arabic (its name translates to “Syrian Archaeological Ruins in Danger”), has created a space for people to share news.

“To raise awareness of the destruction that threatens the cultural heritage of Syria,” the group writes, “this page lists the antiquities and archaeological sites that are or may suffer damage due to the turmoil facing the country.”

http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/march-2012/article/leaked-government-memo-warns-of-organized-looting-in-syria



Edited by TheAlaniDragonRising - 24-Mar-2012 at 17:43
What a handsome figure of a dragon. No wonder I fall madly in love with the Alani Dragon now, the avatar, it's a gorgeous dragon picture.
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